Cheung Kong closes gap after Longcheer's Doldrums moment
Cheung Kong Sailing Team closed to just a point off the lead of the Beneteau 40.7 fleet after an up and down day of light winds at the China Cup International Regatta in Shenzhen. Day two of the regatta was the first day of inshore competition, with multiple divisions - totalling 108 boats - racing across the breadth of Daya Bay.
The breeze was in short supply, but Vanhang Longcheer won a good start in the first race of the morning and cruised into a healthy lead. However, as the wind died, Longcheer found herself parked in a mini Doldrums while her rivals cruised on by. Steve McConaghy was philosophical about the loss after dropping from first to seventh: “We’d done well by being on the right of the previous beat, but when the wind dropped out it actually held stronger on the left and we just had to sit and watch some of the other boats come past us. Seventh hurts a little bit, especially after leading, but at least we’re holding on to the overall lead, even it’s only a point. We won the last race and generally going pretty well. Jono [Rankine] is sailing well. They won the morning race and they came back really strong yesterday when the wind shut down on the long race.”
A professional sailor from Australia, McConaghy says that doing well is sometimes about keeping your nerve when the conditions go fluky, such as towards the close of yesterday’s Simpson Marine Passage Race. “The forecast said the breeze was likely to fill in from the east and so we protected that side and managed to extend our lead to about 15 minutes at the finish. The boats that got parked got really parked, but I think Jono passed about 10 boats towards the finish, and the Kiwis [Yiihua-Pocket Emirates Team New Zealand] went past quite a few too.”
So Cheung Kong’s get-out-of-jail moments, their ability to turn water into wine, stands them in good stead in their battle with Vanhang Longcheer, who holds the lead with scores of 1,7,1. There are plenty of others to watch too, though, including the South African crew on board PerDormire Team. “We were OCS in the first race today, a little too eager at the start,” said former America’s Cup competitor Mark Sadler who steers PerDormire. "But we got a second in the Passage Race and a third this afternoon, so we’re hoping to drop the OCS as our discard.”
Another high performing crew are Cheche Tech Team from Spain, a group of friends from the Canary Islands. The only woman on the crew, Lai Francesca, said she was enjoying her first time racing at the China Cup. “We’re used to stronger winds in Lanzarote but we still like the lighter winds here in China and we sail well together as a crew. We have all known each other since we were kids, so it’s like sailing with family.” The Spanish boat sits in third place, one point ahead of Yiihua-Pocket Emirates Team New Zealand.
In IRC A, last year’s winners Standard Insurance Centennial Sailing Team from the Philippines hold the lead although last race of the day gave victory to Shawn Kang’s Lighthorse Alpha +. In IRC A2, Tiffany Koo steered Hero Racing to the winner’s gun in both of today’s races to pull ahead of yesterday’s Passage Race winner, the Soto40 Seamo Racing skippered by Guo Ji Lan. In IRC B, the lead is shared between Hu Zhongwu’s Azuree 41 Beiji Funds Asia Pacific Sailing Team and Ocean Link - Dalian Maritime University Sailing Team, a Comet 51S skippered by Mu Shijia. It’s also tied at the top in IRC C between Nick Southward’s J/109 Whiskey Jack and Zhao Bingqing’s TEN33 Sanya Yomovo Team.
There’s a forecast of stronger wind for Saturday which will test a new set of boathandling skills after the tactical focus of the first two days of light airs.